Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mohammed on the Couch

The most prominent MSM contributor to Everybody Draw Mohammed Day was a South African cartoonist named Jonathan Shapiro, a.k.a. Zapiro, who drew this political cartoon for the Mail & Guardian:

Zapiro cartoon

To see a full-sized version, click here.

The appearance of the cartoon caused a huge controversy in South Africa. The Council of Muslim Theologians got wind of its existence prior to press time, and attempted without success to block its publication. Muslim groups expressed their customary indignation and anger. The CMT issued the obligatory veiled threat that is routinely employed by CAIR and other Muslim groups throughout the West:

[The Council of Muslim Theologians] added that while it wouldn’t advocate violence, it couldn’t necessarily guarantee that there wouldn’t be any.

Muslim spokesmen invariably disclaim any personal intention of reacting violently, but they also assume that their co-religionists are so primitive and childlike that they can’t control their own behavior in the face of cartoons and jokes. Are these spokesmen unaware of how badly this reflects on the people to whom they give voice? Or do they simply not care?

Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes gave the most cogent summary of the Zapiro Cartoon Affair:

“In my view no cartoon is as insulting to Islam as the assumption that Muslims are incapable of reacting to a challenging image with anything but violence.”

This is the same theme I broached last night in my EDMD post-mortem. It is patronizing and — dare I say it? — racist to assume that Muslims have any less autonomy, agency, and capacity for self-control than the rest of us do. The onus is upon them to learn how to behave in a civilized manner in a civilized country, not upon us to restrain our satirical impulses in order to avoid giving offense.

From what I can gather, the Mail & Guardian is not what I would call a conservative paper, and through his cartoons Zapiro seems to be a crusader for social justice and other progressive causes. The paper and the cartoonist did not embroil themselves in this controversy out of any Counterjihad sentiments. Quite the contrary.

Our British correspondent JP has collected a series of articles and op-eds about the Zapiro cartoon from various South African media sources. I’ll put the full text of each article in tonight’s news feed, but some relevant excerpts are below.

First, a letter from the editor of the Mail & Guardian:

The cartoon depicts the Prophet Muhammad reclining on a therapist’s couch and saying sadly “Other prophets’ followers have a sense of humour”.

When I first saw the image, and approved it for publication, it was clear to me that it was Zapiro’s contribution to the global debate around representations of the Prophet. This is an enormously complex and sensitive subject, but I felt that Zapiro had attempted to handle it with care. Unlike some other cartoonists who have tackled the same subject, he had not used Islamophobic imagery, nor had he mocked the prophet.

What the cartoon does do, is use humour to ask why the concerns of one religious group should be privileged above those of others, and above the freedom of expression rights enshrined in our constitution.

Zapiro’s talent for satirical analysis means that he causes offence from time-to-time — sometimes very profound offence. His very strong criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and of human rights abuses by the Israeli government, for example, angers many Jewish South Africans.

His depictions of the Pope in cartoons dealing with the policies and doctrines of the Vatican offend some of our Catholic readers, and his depictions of President Jacob Zuma have drawn not only anger from the President, but a multimillion-rand lawsuit.

It was against this backdrop that I made the decision to publish the cartoon. I understand that for many Muslims any representation of the Prophet, no matter how innocuous, is offensive and I genuinely regret any offence that the cartoon may have caused those who hold this belief dear. That regret does not, however, outweigh my duty to the principle of freedom expression. Zapiro expresses himself by drawing, and to deny him his pen would be to deny him his voice.


Some have suggested that it was irresponsible of us to publish the cartoon, knowing that it would anger a section of the community, and might lead to violence. Counsel for Jamiatul Ulama argued this point strongly in a court bid to prevent distribution of today’s newspaper.

I take a different view. I believe that it is more insulting to Islam to assume that Muslims will react violently to a challenging image, than it is to publish such an image. I have complete faith that local Muslim community holds dear the same constitutional values as the M&G. I will be holding discussions with Muslim leaders in the coming days in order to listen to their concerns.

South Africa is home to a multitude of faith communities, as well as to strongly divergent secular viewpoints. We possess an extraordinary talent for having difficult conversations, and emerging stronger from them. I welcome that conversation; on our website, in the newspaper, and in direct interaction with our readers.

From the comments section:
- - - - - - - - -
Dear Editor

We the South African Muslim community is deeply offended by your cartoon mocking the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and depicting him negatively. It is evident that this publication is aimed to demonise the character and personality of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is followed by 1.5 billion Muslims globally and who is admired by millions of others all over the world. After all, what was the intention of this publication by depicting the Prophet negatively when it is a well known fact that he was a paragon of peace, mercy, tolerance and forgiveness?

The publication of this cartoon demonstrates contempt for the religious beliefs of the Muslim Community. This cartoon has abused freedom of speech by taking it to a dangerous, irresponsible and unacceptable level by showing disregard for the sensitivities of Muslims of South Africa. The Muslim community views the publication of such offensive material as a serious attack on the integrity of their religion, and as an attack on the global Muslim Community.

The media has a duty to act responsibly in sensitive issues of this nature and not to push the right to freedom of expression to ridiculous levels where the lines of distinction between profound and profane are virtually obliterated. Freedom of expression is not an absolute; it is limited by the requirement of not causing offence or inciting racial or religious hatred.


The entire culture and value system of Islam is based on respect and reverence, such as respect for parents, wives, elders, religious symbols and so forth but for some respect means nothing at all. Such people satirise and mock anything and everything, including their own religion, all of which is done in the name of freedom of expression. They expect to also mock at others, in the name of freedom of expression. But Muslims, who are required by their religion to respect all of the Holy Prophets (peace be upon all of them), will not tolerate the mockery of any of the Holy Prophets. Hence when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was mocked in the cartoon, there is a furious reaction from Muslims.

Two things are wrong with the cartoon. Firstly, the illustrated depiction of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and worse, the intention to ridicule the Prophet (peace be upon him) through it. This is an explosion waiting to happen. We view this as an example of the ignorance and arrogance that you have displayed.

Ismaeel Adam

A summary of what happened, published in the next day’s edition of the Mail & Guardian:

Uproar Over M&G Prophet Muhammad Cartoon

It was a late night in court for the Mail & Guardian as the Council of Muslim Theologians on Thursday evening tried to stop the newspaper from publishing a Zapiro cartoon featuring the Prophet Muhammad.

An interdict was not granted, but on Friday morning M&G editor-in-chief Nic Dawes and other staff were fielding a flood of angry callers, and even death threats hit the newspaper’s office.

“You’ve got to watch your back” and “This will cost him his life” were some of the remarks made.

The cartoon followed the furore surrounding the Facebook page, “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”, which was sparked by threats by a radical Muslim group against the creators of US TV series South Park for depicting the prophet in a bear suit.

Zapiro’s cartoon, published in Friday’s M&G, depicted the prophet reclining on a psychiatrist’s couch and bemoaning his followers’ lack of humour.

When Dawes first saw the cartoon he said he thought it “a gentle and irreverent poke” at the hysteria that had greeted the Facebook page. This week Pakistan ordered all internet service providers to block Facebook, as well as YouTube for carrying “un-Islamic content”.

Dawes recounted how he received a call from an attorney from the council at about 8.30pm on Thursday night — after the distribution process of the Friday paper had begun. “He asked for an undertaking that we would stop distribution of the paper and remove the cartoon.”

Dawes pointed out that this was impossible, and that in any event the M&G would not do so.

By 11.30pm the newspaper’s advocate had been pulled out of a dinner party and Dawes, along with the paper’s investigation unit, found himself in the South Gauteng High Court ready to defend the M&G’s right to freedom of speech.

However, the council, or Jamiatul Ulama as it is also known, failed to provide the necessary papers for the M&G to answer. It presented verbal evidence, but the judge ruled the interdict failed in terms of urgency, as the newspaper was already available in some outlets and the cartoon had already been published on the M&G Online.

It was a case of trying to close the stable doors long after the horse had bolted, the newspaper’s counsel pointed out.

Furthermore, the judge found that the newspaper’s rights had been compromised by not being provided with founding papers advising what the case against it was.

While the council pleaded with the judge not to throw the case out on technical grounds, she answered that “as a judge and as a Muslim I am bound by our Constitution and the rules of our courts”.

Earlier, the judge made a decision to not recuse herself, saying her own religious background wouldn’t influence her.

Violent backlash

The Council of Muslim Theologians is the same organisation that succeeded in preventing the Sunday Times in 2006 from republishing the controversial Danish cartoons of the prophet.

During Thursday’s application the council repeatedly raised the spectre of a violent backlash, saying that the timing of the cartoon was bad because of a possible threat to the Soccer World Cup.

It added that while it wouldn’t advocate violence, it couldn’t necessarily guarantee that there wouldn’t be any.

“We very much saw that as a threat, and our counsel vigorously objected,” said Dawes. The judge upheld the objection.

While the council was unhappy with the court’s decision, it agreed to meet Dawes to take the discussion forward.

“The M&G is a platform for debate,” Dawes emphasised, adding that everyone was welcome to engage in debate and discussion with the paper. “My view is no cartoon is as insulting to Islam as the assumption Muslims will react with violence.”

However, he also noted that had the cartoon been in any way Islamophobic, or crossed the line in terms of hate speech and racism, he would not have published it.

But Zapiro’s cartoons, he said, offend many people. Many noted that the award-winning South African political cartoonist, whose pen has repeatedly and poignantly exposed corrupt politicians and various hypocrisies in the public sphere, could have been far harsher if he wished.

As Dawes said: “If we had to pull every Zapiro cartoon that offended someone we wouldn’t have any Zapiro cartoons in the newspaper.”

From the Mail & Guardian:

Zapiro’s Cartoon: A lesson in democracy

Here’s a quick recent history in case you missed it.

  • April 2010: Creators of the irreverent cartoon series, South Park, receive death threats for depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an episode and elements of it are self-censored by the network.
  • April 26: A global desktop activist drive launches on Facebook: “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” is set for May 20. Cue giant uproar in Muslim communities around the world, including Pakistan restricting access to Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Wikipedia.
  • May 20: South Africa: Ridiculously astute and talented South African cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro delivers a gentle poke at Islamic over-reaction in Friday’s edition of the Mail & Guardian, depicting the prophet reclining in a psychiatrist’s chair bemoaning his followers’ lack of humour.
  • 11.30pm, May 20: Court room drama till the wee hours as the Council of Muslim Theologians attempts — and fails — to halt the newspaper’s distribution.

It was mayhem. M&G editor Nic Dawes was up till 2am with our legal team. The next day we were hit with a storm of angry letters and calls. Traffic volumes on this website went through the roof as the story went global. Lawyers were dragged out of dinner parties, people shouted at us, phones rang off the hook and Muslim leaders slammed our lack of sensitivity.

In other words, democracy happened. I staggered home after a long day of answering angry emails and moderating reams of comments on related articles. But I looked back proud of my country, our people and our Muslim community.


And it’s not just the war-torn developing world. In the West, Islam is the new Russia. Europeans and Americans seem not to know what to do with their Muslim communities — unless they conform thoroughly to the country’s cultural milieu they’re generally left out of its mainstream life. We’ve never had that problem in South Africa.

When I lived in The Netherlands for a few months in 2005, I was surprised — and disturbed — by the ghettoisation of Muslims. They seemed marginalised and maligned. Coming from a country where Muslims have been part and parcel of our national identity for centuries, it was a strange sight.


Perhaps it’s because our Islamic community is so firmly and unashamedly part of who we are as a nation that we haven’t had the same tensions that plague other secular countries with a significant Muslim population.

From the Cape Argus:

No apology from Mail & Guardian

The Mail & Guardian newspaper says it will not apologise for a Zapiro cartoon it published on Friday depicting Prophet Muhammad.

The newspaper was due to meet with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) tomorrow to discuss the cartoon which has been greeted with outrage in the Muslim community. The cartoon shows Prophet Muhammad lying on a psychiatrist’s couch complaining: “Other prophets have followers with a sense of humour!”

MJC president Moulana Ighsaan Hendricks said they would discuss the matter further once the meeting had taken place.

Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes said they would be going to listen to what the MJC had to say, but said they would not be offering an apology. “But we will express our regret for the distress we may have caused our readers,” he said. He confirmed that Zapiro would be present at the meeting tomorrow.

Muslims consider any depiction of Prophet Muhammad as offensive. Dawes said: “My view is no cartoon is as insulting as the assumption Muslims will react with violence.” In an online statement he said: “When I first saw the image, and approved it for publication, it was clear to me that it was Zapiro’s contribution to the global debate around representations of the Prophet. This is an enormously complex and sensitive subject, but I felt that Zapiro had attempted to handle it with care.”

Several Muslim organisations met yesterday to discuss the cartoon of the Prophet and said it was “blasphemous, insulting, insensitive and hurtful to the Muslim community. Organisations formed a committee, the United Muslim Forum of South Africa, who said they had a mandate to obtain an apology and appropriate assurances from the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

Hendricks said the organisation respected Zapiro’s right to freedom of expression, but that the cartoonist had to apply this with sensitivity to religious beliefs.

Zapiro was not willing to comment when contacted last night to discuss the matter.

From The Guardian (UK):

South African paper refuses to apologise for cartoon of Prophet Mohammed

A row that blew up last week in South Africa over another newspaper cartoon featuring the Prophet Muhammad shows no signs of dying down.

Nic Dawes, the editor of the Mail & Guardian, has made it clear ahead of his meeting today with the Council of Muslim Theologians that he will not apologise for running the cartoon last Friday. Drawn by Zapiro (the pen name of Jonathan Shapiro), it depicted the prophet reclining on a therapist’s couch and saying: “Other prophets have followers with a sense of humour!…”

The Muslim group, alerted on Thursday evening to the contents of the cartoon, tried to prevent its publication by launching a late-night high court action. Copies of the paper were already being distributed when the judge ruled in the paper’s favour.

Staff at the Mail & Guardian, a weekly tabloid regarded as a serious newspaper, have since received threats.

From Thought Leader (a production of M&G):

So what’s the big deal with drawing the prophet?

I can’t understand why the media, the West and everyone else who engaged in the “Let’s Draw Muhammad” contest recently couldn’t, in all their secular intelligence, attempt to first UNDERSTAND and then act instead of the other way round. I am also extremely disappointed with Zapiro for simply “jumping on the bandwagon” which is very unlike him. The Zapiro I’m used to has deep insight, sharp wit and gets to the heart of the issue at hand. Zapiro’s cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) shows only deep ignorance … but I’ll analyse that later.

First, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Why are Muslims going crazy when this happens? Well, at the essence, we do not draw the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or represent him in any way or form even though we do have detailed, verified and ratified descriptions of him because it is mentioned in the Qur’an not to fall into the trap of worshipping the Prophet instead of God. Secondly, Muslims believe in ALL of the prophets of God — Moses, Jesus, Noah, Jonah, Adam etc (peace be upon them all) and we don’t DRAW any of them.


Finally, I pray … that intelligence dawns on both sides of this conflict. It’s a shame on humanity that BOTH sides are acting like this. Let’s grow up.

Muhammad Karim is a blogger on Tech Leader and a contributing author on Global Voices Online.

From the Cape Argus:

Why I’m crossing swords with Zapiro

One of my prized possessions is a 1987 United Democratic Front calendar by Jonathan Shapiro, or Zapiro, which has accompanied me in almost every office I’ve occupied. It has served as a summary of most that I have valued in my participation in the Struggle, and a reminder of the power of the arts to communicate when intolerance shuts down other, more linear voices.

In the battle for ideas and a better life, there is a genre that pushes back boundaries, can be iconoclastic and subversive, surface truth and expose falsehood, and yet leave the powerful that are challenged perplexed, because no tangible law was broken. They feel subverted, but bear no external wounds.

This sense overwhelmed me on seeing Zapiro participate in the “Draw Muhammad Day”. I was perplexed. I can well imagine how delicious the prospect must be to take on one of the remaining boundaries in an increasingly post-modern world.

The prospect of “drawing Muhammad” is alluring to those who pride themselves on iconoclasm and subversion.

Put at the service of a higher purpose like extending the boundaries of free expression, the campaign to “draw Muhammad” has just the right mix of nobility that comes from extending the truth, and danger that comes from taking on a group of people who appear to have long ago traded reason for the more instant elevation to paradise.

So why would I, in my state of ambiguity, even dare to cross swords (or pens) with Jonathan Shapiro about a cartoon?

Maybe because I suspect that he identifies himself with higher purposes and that he is in a space of values that sets him apart from his contemporaries who initiated the campaign to “draw Muhammad”. Maybe it’s just useful to seize the opportunity to debate and tease out the complexities of an issue so as not to cede the ground to those who label, threaten and harm in a battle of higher purposes.


What does all of this have to do with Zapiro’s cartoon? I raise this, I think, to invite Zapiro to understand the whole and to work at even higher purposes, and to fight real enemies. We need to distinguish the powerful from the victims. When we “draw Muhammad”, are we not helping powerful extremists by indignifying and mobilising already emasculated victims? For those who write, draw, speak and act with conscience, is our higher purpose today not to defuse the fundamentalist instincts — whether they sit in the Pentagon, wear explosives in Palestine, march into Gaza, peddle fast-food salvation or instant paradise, or make the poor invisible in the economic forums of the world?

We need to understand that we, too, are capable of advancing a fundamentalist agenda when we fail to advance rights, freedoms and values in relation to each other, and instead choose one or a few that we are closest to. We adopt unwittingly the mantle of those we challenge when such distinctions evade us.


To this day, Muslim antipathy toward depiction persists because it detracts from purity of faith. The Islamic heartlands have been denuded of relics and artefacts in a sometimes overzealous interpretation of this. To not know this, and to want to wage war against the intolerant fundamentalist strain in the Muslim community by using as the weapon of choice the very thing — depiction — that Islam emerged against, is to perpetuate the very conditions in the Muslim world that have bred violence. Muslims are brought up not to visualise or imagine the Prophet, but to mould their lives on the practice of the Prophet.

Zapiro, therefore, assists in convincing the majority of Muslims, who are ordinary, peaceful, tolerant, joking and humorous, that maybe there is something in that siren song which attempts to seduce them with the idea that there is only hostility with a world that disrespects their precepts of faith.


We need to nurture a gentler, more caring and free world with an enormous capacity for humour, that comes from those who are secure in their sense of dignity.

We must resist the siren songs of fundamentalists of all kinds. By pushing the boundary of Muslim aversion to depiction, we disturb the equilibrium that holds us all in check.

As for Zapiro, I refuse to burn my 1987 UDF calendar.

Ebrahim Rasool is an MP and founder of World for All Foundation


Juniper in the Desert said...

When will muslims say their "cult" is NOT the same as other religions and is based on hate as opposed to love.

"They respect all the other prophets, so why don't we respect THEIRS?"

Because he orders them to KILL US!

They make me sick!

Lawrence said...

wow all that commentary from South Africa. Yet you (never mind everybody else back in South Africa it would seem either praising Zapiro or damning him and threatening him) missed the basics, sigh - namely the hypocrisy of the M&G and Zapiro on this whole affair. That is the M&G is probably the most leftwing paper in South Africa and is hostile to Israel and very pro-Palestinian ie pro-Jihad against the Jews, as is Zapiro. Get what a commentator at jihadwatch called the M&G's and Zapiro's hypocrisy and double-think on this whole controversy? yeah?

Commentator 'klute' pointed all this out at jihadwatch on the thread relating to this topic

I repost klute's comments here since they are apt and the Baron missed it entirely:

It's worth pointing out some things here, Zapiro, pen-name for Jonathan Shapiro and the M&G in South Africa are both pathologically anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian (with all that that implies). The M&G is a newspaper that perpetually gives the same deceitful and one-sided and distorted coverage of the Israel/Muslim Arab conflict as The Guardian or Independent in the UK. In fact it is vicious in its blatant anti-Israelism and its whitewashing of the Jihad against Israel. It is thus a paper (like most all liberal papers in the West) that is blatantly dhimmified and functions like the MSM in general as a useful idiot for the Jihad. It is a paper every bit as bad as any odious leftwing media outlet in Europe, the UK and North America. In fact it is very much like its British namesake, The Guardian.

Shapiro/Zapiro's cartoons on the Middle-East are so blatantly one-sided against Israel and he NEVER has criticised the Palestinians and Hezbollah in his cartoons over the years. In fact he infamously drew a cartoon of Ariel Sharon as a Nazi stormtrooper after the massacre in Jenin that never ever happened. He has drawn a cartoon blaming Israel for the '67 War, and so many other cartoons condemning Israel whenever there is a flare-up in the Middle-East, the Palestinian intifada during 2000, the war with Hezbollah in 2006. He even drew a cartoon in which he shows IAF jets bombing the White House! (the point of this cartoon was that the US would only condemn Israel for its supposed "war crimes" if the IAF attacked America, yes moronic but that's just the thing with Zapiro's anti-Israel cartoons). They are moronic and misinformed and dishonest and thus beloved by Jew-haters of all stripes.


Lawrence said...

He predictably drew vicious anti-Israel cartoons leading up to the Gaza War in 2008/2009 (and his bash-Israel-what-Jihad-against-the-Jews? who cares for the facts MO has never changed). He has NEVER drawn a single cartoon condeming the Muslim jihad against Israel and their associated crimes of terror and fascistic violence and related (Sharia Law etc). Going by Zapiro's cartoons you wouldn't know that HAMAS, Hezbollah, Syrian Baathists, the Muslim Brotherhood even existed or that Fatah, Arafat, Abbas are likewise jihadists dedicated to Israel's destruction. Zapiro in fact signed petitions with other anti-Israel so-called Jews condemning Israel during the wars initiated by her numerous Muslim jihadist enemies.

Zapiro is thus a "Jew" like that other South African "Jew" Richard Golstone, and too many to mention in the US, Canada, UK etc. Zapiro is just anti-religion so he knocks Islam over this cartoon crisis, so what. In every other respect given his cartoon propaganda against Israel in the service of her Jihadist enemies motivated by the dogma of Islam (of which Zapiro knows nothing), he is a useful dhimmi propogandist for Islam and thus religious fascism. He is beloved by anti-Semites precisely because his cartoons are so useful to them when it comes to the Muslim war against Israel.

So this cartoon of Zapiro's that JW praises actually just shows up Zapiro's and the M&G's hypocrisy. These same SA Muslims just love Zapiro for his pro-Islamic anti-Israel Mid-East cartoons as they love the M&G for their anti-Semitism passed off as Mid-East reporting and analysis, but they cry foul when he makes fun of their intolerance - this has nothing to do with Israel (or even America) after all, if it did Zapiro would be drawing cartoon SA Muslims would be endorsing. Normally SA Muslims and dhimmi Leftists love Zapiro and the M&G for this very reason, ie their respective anti-Israelism and love affair with the Palestinians. Just google Zapiro and Israel on google images for his odious cartoons not out of place in the most horrific anti-Semitic quarters. In fact a search for Zapiro and Israel on the web sees him praised from the usual assorted anti-Semitic suspects including Jew-hating Muslims around the world.

So they get upset now when he points fingers at their superstitions, like I said - so what, it only exacerbates his rank hypocrisy. Zapiro doesn't have a clue as to the life and actual teachings of the so-called prophet Mohammed, and an irony lost on him is that he is in fact a useful idiot propagandist for the mad bloodthirsty prophet of Islam, Islam and the Jihad itself, given his Mid-East cartoons. JW should be condemning Zapiro for his hypocritical double-think and his propagandist contradictions, not praising him. In other words, do more research on those you are so quick to shower praise on.


Lawrence said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dymphna said...

@ Lawrence, who said:

wow all that commentary from South Africa. Yet you... missed the basics, sigh - namely the hypocrisy of the M&G and Zapiro

"Sigh" backatchya Lawrence. It sure takes a lot of commentary to set us straight, hmm? Almost 900 words in two comments. Wow.

Maybe you should consider setting up your own blog??

Next time, before engaging in such lengthy condescension, please read the post.

The Baron said:

Zapiro seems to be a crusader for social justice and other progressive causes. The paper and the cartoonist did not embroil themselves in this controversy out of any Counterjihad sentiments. Quite the contrary.

Was his opinion that this guy was no friend not polemical enough?

What part of that do you disagree with?

Should he have pointed out the obvious repeatedly just in case our readers didn't 'get' it?


I'm leaving up your first two comments, even though they skirt the edges of civility.

However, the third comment has long URLS. When they go past the comment window size, this pushes the whole page way down the screen and it looks as though there are no posts on the home page.

Did you not read the comment rules? It says, at the bottom:

Please do not paste long URLs!

I would've taken it down anyway, since the opening sentence was an ad hominem attack. They're not permitted here. We, and our readers, hold to a high standard: civil discourse, even when talking about our enemies.

The rules are above the comment box, along with an HTML template that permits you to put in long URLS without messing up the page. Using the template also has the advantage of making your links clickable.

A commenter hint for using Blogger, which doesn't automatically hyperlink: people aren't likely to scrape out a URL and paste it in another window. However, they will (most times) click on a live link.

For a fuller view of what is meant by civil discourse, go here.

For other information, see the top of the comment box.

Axel T said...

Unfortunately, in Muslim cultures what we perceive as childish or immature lack of control is regarded as the correct adult response. An interesting insight into this is provided by a psychotherapist who worked with many "maladjusted"Muslim youths.

However, whilst the therapist argues that the Muslim attitude to aggressive behaviour is the inverse of that in the West (regarding it as apropriate and the valid response to a perceived sleight or even disagreement) there is a problem with both his and your baseline for analysis.

That is to say, the description of a stigma attaching to loss of temper or aggressive acting out which you and he refer to is in reality peculiar to only certain milieus within Western culture. It is class-bound, context specific.

It is certainly NOT true of proletarian society in the West, where it is considered entirely appropriate, indeed expected of a "real man" to resort to violence or the threat of violence over almost any disagreement or perceived disrespect. Knock over a geezers pint and he is almost honour bound to respond in a "childish" large sections of British society, for example. Indeed, we have the expression "dissing" and its response ("itll be you and your homies lined in chalk", to cite Ice-T)through no thanks to Islam at all.

In fact, in most of Western society, a man is indeed supposed to express a readiness to resort to aggression at all times, in his physical deportment at least.

Indeed, this alienation of one section of our culture (epicene) from the base (virile) was also illustrated on a previous comments board by your objection to use of a virile "Anglo-Saxon" vocabulary. As Mark Steyn occasionally observes, Islam is brimming with the energy of youth (a demographic bias towards the young). As the rise of youth culture in our own societies illustrates, a conservative emphasis upon "polite" discourse seems to provoke rather than mollify the reaction of the "unruly" element. See, for example, the history of Punk Rock in Britain. Provoked by "polite" reaction, its drive was eventually dissipated by its terms and tone being adopted by and absorbed into the establishment (eg, John peel).

Islamism, at least here in the UK, is definitely a fashionable youth movement. It isnt polite. and being polite about it, as with Punk Rock, will only enhance its status as a "rebellious" expressionof youthful vigour.

I would argue, therefore, that whilst the "aint they obviousaly childish" argument might play in the ivried drawing room, it will count for nothing positive "down the pub". If anything, the full blooded and aggressive antics of Pakistan-type protests impresses far more the youth and the undecided of our own culture than any attempt to spin it in what is frankly patronising terms. There is, frankly, something galvanising about those mobs, which "tut tutting" about it only threatens to emphasise.

ChrisLA said...

Readers should take a close look at the double entendre by Ebrahim Rasool at the end of the GoV article: "By pushing the boundary of Muslim aversion to depiction, we disturb the equilibrium that holds us all in check." The Quran talks a lot about exceeding the boundary, e.g., Surahs 5:77, 20:24, 20:43, and 89:11. This boundary in the eyes of Muslims is defined by the rules of dhimmitude, in particular, that non-Muslims do not criticize Islamic ideology. The equilibrium he talks about is not horizontal as in equal rights, but one of submission. If non-Muslims do not submit (as in the case of Zapiro this time) all hell breaks loose per Surah 33:58. When Muslims write, as in the case of Mr. Rasool, there is one message to the non-Muslims, but quite a different one to the Muslims.

Dymphna said...

I can't speak for the UK, Axel T, but I have a quibble with this, because I think it's out of context:

It is certainly NOT true of proletarian society in the West, where it is considered entirely appropriate, indeed expected of a "real man" to resort to violence or the threat of violence over almost any disagreement or perceived disrespect...

The difference between the proles in the West and ALL MUSLIM MALES in the ME (and often in the West) is that while there may be one-off aggrieved violent acting-out by some males from the class you describe, it is not generally behavior which their relatives encourage or even engage in with him. That's one difference.

The second is that you actually have to DO something (usually) to evoke the man's ire. Merely being an infidel breathing in and out isn't enough.

He also doesn't go prowling, looking for YOU because you're not one of him. And he's much less likely to rape your women.

Is it the case that there are now no-go prole sections in the UK as there are Muslim no-go areas? I'm asking because I don't know and it would make an interesting comparison if this were the case. For example, if prole no-go areas do exist, do the inhabitants attack firemen and ambulances?

By the way, the psychologist you refer to, Dr. Sennels, is going to have his book published in English soon.

We've been writing about Dr. S. for several years now and did a review of that post on NER, here.

Sennels' work is a cut above. I hope his ideas spread. We could use more psychologists who get the difference.

Baron Bodissey said...

Lawrence --

the Baron missed it entirely...


As Dymphna has already pointed out, you seem to be entirely unable to read. What part of "crusader for social justice and other progressive causes" didn't you understand?

I suppose that I could make my point by use long obscenity-laden streams of invective, which is the common mode of discourse in many other forums. I could impute to people I disagree with the habits of bestiality or necrophilia or some other perversity. Or maybe I could designate them as various species of animals.

That's how a lot of people seem to argue these days. Would it have helped you to understand me?

In this case I chose to make my own point in a minimalist way, without obtruding myself upon the reader, and then presented the material as is, so that he might judge for himself.

If that is too subtle, then perhaps you would be better off frequenting those venues where debaters hit each other upside the head with bricks. That might be more congenial to your forensic tastes.

Baron Bodissey said...

Axel T --

I can't argue with anything you say about how they handle matters "down the pub". And, as you point out, I am one of those who prefer to deal with the world differenntly, in an "ivied drawing room" style. (Where is the ivy, by the way? Outside on the bricks? Or inside, curling around the ornate gilt picture frames and the carved onyx mantelpiece?)

There is one important aspect of all this that I'd like to point out, however. For a number of centuries, up until a point somewhere between August 1914 and August 1945, the polite courtesy that you seem to hold in disdain was in fact the customary behavior of the ruling classes. Acting with decorum and circumspection was the norm -- or at least the normative ideal -- of those who ran the country.

And those polite, well-bred gentleman were ruthless, vicious, and cold-blooded in both war and politics. This was not the effete smarmy talk of namby-pamby weaklings, but the chosen mode of shared discourse for those who were in charge, and knew it.

Perhaps this characteristic draws on Robert Heinlein's epigram: "An armed society is a polite society."

Those who wield immense power -- and I mean real power, not the I'll-smash-yer-teef-down-yer-froat-mate-if-yer-say-that-again kind of braggadocio, which is trivial and ephemeral. Real power -- which, in the case of the British, commanded hundreds of thousands of sweating coolies in tropical hellholes and conquered the Moghul Empire with a handful of dedicated soldiers -- is invariably polite.

Hypersensitive belligerence is and always has been a proletarian characteristic. The proletarianization of all levels of our society has spread such behavior around a bit. But I think you will find that in any culture -- even an Arab one -- where ruthless and powerful men are in charge, their mode of interaction is invaribly formal and polite.

Axel T said...


Im sorry to seem contradictory, because I DO like your work and this is one of my favourite sites now. BUT, Im afraid your points only further illustrate the ciltural divide between our backgrounds. Firstly "The difference between the proles in the West and ALL MUSLIM MALES in the ME (and often in the West) is that while there may be one-off aggrieved violent acting-out by some males from the class you describe, it is not generally behavior which their relatives encourage or even engage in with him...."

ON THE CONTRARY. In the "lower strata" of...well, I shall speak specifically of what i know...English prole society, young boys, and now girls to somne extent, are raised and encouraged to use aggression and violence in just about every dealing in everyday life, barring exchanges with persons having authority they cannot bully down. For example, the police. Although Ive even seen a man knock a copper to the deck rather than answer a civil question. This is a world I know, I have lived...thankfully not IN but alongside all my life. Even conversations betwen friends of this background appears on the face of it to be a shouting match full of invective.

"The second is that you actually have to DO something (usually) to evoke the man's ire. Merely being an infidel breathing in and out isn't enough."

ON THE CONTRARY, just LOOKING wrong can bring it on. That is to say, being passively something they dont like the look of.

"He also doesn't go prowling, looking for YOU because you're not one of him."

SURE THEY DO...havent you heard Elton Johns "Saturday Night", going on the prowl looking for a fight is what HORDES of Englishmen do on a Friday or Saturday night. Ive seen some spectacular episodes in the rather well-heeled place where I live. Yes, even the scions of public schools go in for it. As I know to my cost.

"... And he's much less likely to rape your women...." Ahem, "my" women?

"Is it the case that there are now no-go prole sections in the UK as there are Muslim no-go areas? I'm asking because I don't know and it would make an interesting comparison if this were the case."

Well, ABSOLUTELY< IT IS THE CASEthat there are no-go prole sink estates. To be fair, I dont know of any no-go Muslim areas but maybe thats because I live in the affluent South.

How do you not know this. For example, one such district thirty years ago was the London ghetto of Broadwater Farm. Police went there at their peril. It has since been pacified. But there are parts of most British cities where the police only go in extremis, in force and other services (fire, ambulance) are generally pelted by stone throwing youths if they make an appearance. Sometimes they are shot at. Sometimes fires are set to get them there for that purpose.

"... For example, if prole no-go areas do exist, do the inhabitants attack firemen and ambulances?"

Indeed, as I said. I might add that within twenty minutes walk from where I am sitting (in that well-heeled location) is a district where the police some years ago patrolled on foot in teams armed with Steyr AUG assault rifles, carried openly on the chest, routinely, in the street. They made a big deal of advertising the fact in the regional press. admittedly, the district is not predominantly white...but hey, this isnt about skin colour (at least not in my book) , it is not a Muslim district.

Maybe we have class differences clouding our perception here but also its about location.

In any case, why take the line you have. Im not trying to defend Islam, which I detest. Im trying to point out where a precious kind of "polite" debate and response to their actions is futile.

And by the way, it is critical in order to avoid charges of "racism" that the critique remain one of Islam, not of Muslims, which, curiously does seem to be a distinction becoming dangerously blurred.

Ypp said...

Shapiro is an typical Jewish name from eastern Europe. This guy spent a lot of effort criticizing Israel, but nobody knew him. If he becomes world-famous, it's because of this cartoon. There is a lot of irony in it.

It seems that the most efficient critics of Islam are leftists. Because they sincerely believe that all people are nice and it is only misunderstanding. And that is the most insulting assumption for those who want to terrorize.

In Hoc Signo Vinces† said...

In hoc signo vinces

@Axel T,

Which of the two deploy the most aggression and violence to maintain their positions in the UK, the well-heeled or down-heeled?

Which of the two are more dependent on the aggression and violence of the artificial social and economic mechanisms of the UK, the well-heeled or down-heeled?

Which of the two are more likely to delegate aggression and violence to the State or to seek protection in islamic totalitarian rule, the well-heeled or down-heeled?

Profitsbeard said...

All you need to say to anyone trying to blind (or castrate) a fundamental Right is:

"I have the right to peacefully express things that may be offensive to you.

You have the right to be peacefully offended by them.

Isn't that wonderful?!

It's called Freedom of Speech.

Freedom of Thought.

Freedom of Expression.

If you have a problem with that, you'll need to either reform your thinking, or relocate your posterior.

Intolerant theocratic idiocy is only worth consideration for security reasons.

Otherwise people would have long-ago laughed off their obtuse, hysterical, bizarre complaints as something in the tinfoil hat realm.

Only by their threats of murder do we bother to take them seriously.

But not enough.